Nepal’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release of Charles Sobhraj, the French serial killer in the Netflix series “Viper” who was responsible for a spate of murders in Asia in the 1970s.
Sobhraj, 78, who has been held in a Himalayan republic prison since 2003 for the murder of two North American tourists, should be released on health grounds, the Supreme Court ruled.
“Keeping him in jail does not comply with the human rights of prisoners,” read a copy of the verdict seen by AFP.
“If there are no other pending cases against him keeping him in jail, the court will order his release by today and return to his country … within 15 days.”
After a troubled childhood and imprisonment for misdemeanors in France, Sobhraj began traveling the world in the early 1970s, ending in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital.
His modus operandi was to seduce and befriend his victims – many of them visionary Western backpackers seeking spirituality – before drugging, robbing and murdering them.
Suave and sophisticated, he was implicated in his first murder when the body of a young bikini-clad American woman was found on the beach in Pattaya in 1975.
He ended up being linked to more than 20 homicides. His victims were strangled, beaten or burned to death, and he often used the passports of his male victims to travel to his next destination.
Sobhraj’s nickname “The Snake” comes from his ability to assume other identities in order to evade justice. It became the title of a popular BBC and Netflix series based on his life.
He was arrested in India in 1976 and sentenced to 12 years in prison for murder after a French tourist was poisoned to death in a Delhi hotel.
Sobhraj ended up spending 21 years behind bars, taking a short break when he escaped in 1986 and was arrested again in the Indian coastal state of Goa.
Sobhraj was released in 1997 and retired to Paris, but resurfaced in Nepal in 2003, where he was discovered and arrested in a tourist area of Kathmandu.
The following year, he was sentenced to life in prison for the 1975 murder of American tourist Connie Jo Bronzich. A decade later, he was also found guilty of killing Bronzich’s Canadian companion.
While in prison in 2008, Sobhraj married Nihita Biswas, the daughter of his Nepalese lawyer, 44 years his junior.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)